People working for not-for-profit companies much happier than private sector employees, study finds

The study found people working in the private sector would have to earn an extra £27,000 per year to have the same happiness levels as people working for third sector companies, such as charities or social enterprises

Siobhan Fenton
Friday 03 June 2016 16:01
Third sector workers report being happier and more satisfied with their pay
Third sector workers report being happier and more satisfied with their pay

Scientists have revealed one of the most effective ways to increase how happy you are and it’s much simpler than you might think. Working for a charity, social enterprise or other not-for-profit organisation increases your happiness levels sharply, research has found.

A study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology analysed data on 12,786 people working in the private sector and 966 people employed in the ‘third sector’ or not-for-profit organisations.

It found that not only were those in the third sector happier, but that a person working for a private company would have to earn another £27,000 per year to be as happy as their not-for-profit counterparts.

The study also found higher pay does not result in higher pay satisfaction, as third sector employees expressed similar satisfaction levels over how much they earn compared to private sector employees, despite having significantly lower salaries than them.

Study author Martin Binder said: “Adding to our understanding of job satisfaction, the present paper has shown that for Great Britain’s third sector, workers in non-profit organizations are much more satisfied than their peers in private firms with the work itself that they are doing, with their hours worked and with their job security. They are not significantly more satisfied with their pay or promotion prospects but given that they earn less on average it is interesting to note that they are not less satisfied with their pay.”

It is estimated that 732,000 people work in the third sector in the UK. The number is growing, increasing by 34 per cent between 2001 and 2011.

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